How Gratitude Can Mess With Your Life

When I first started a gratitude practice I was terrible at it. I listed things in my journal and even on my phone during my commute but I felt a little silly and it felt really contrived. “I’m thankful for my job,” I’d say, but not mean it at all.

Have an attitude of gratitude and great things will come your way,” they’d say. So I kept at it, but resenting it just a little.

After about two months of making a morning list, I started to feel the shift. I found myself relying on the things I was thankful for throughout my day.

If I was having a rough time at work, I’d remember how thankful I am to have a happy home with my husband and my dogs. I’d smile and be able to keep going until I saw them. And when I did get home after a long day, I was even more happy to see them than before. There was one particular day when I even cried tears of joy on my front porch.

The practice eventually filtered into my normal thoughts. When I’d see someone less fortunate or disabled, I said a silent prayer of well-wishing but also of thanks that I am so blessed. These thoughts particularly started to stay with me during my workouts and inspire me to push me further.

All of that was wonderful – “they” were right.  I did feel happier.   Then someone suggested I include my gratitude list into my meditation. So I tried it for a few days and I really liked it at first because it saved me time. But soon there became an even greater reason to love this idea.

I started to see my gratitude in a totally different way. While I was in a meditative state, concentrating on the things in my life that I was grateful for, I gained a sense of clarity around the things that I truly desired in my life. I’ve even been able to become truly thankful for my job and it’s only because I was able to shift my perspective through meditiation.

In other words, I started to see that the things I was grateful for were the things that mattered and were the things that were driving me. In meditation this comes out so much more powerfully because you’re in touch with your instincts and true desires and your conscious mind can’t edit. You can truly see where your heart is directing you and where your priorities lie. Before, I never felt like I was being authentic when I would be thankful for my horrible job. But when I brought it into meditation it began to resonate with a certain aspect of me. I was able to make a connection to it that brought me some peace. It’s hard to explain – I guess you had to be there…

And this is the point! You should be doing it too – to get the same clarity.

Being grateful throughout your day can absolutely add to your happiness though not necessarily your clarity.  Clarity is really where it’s at because clarity tells us what we want and how we’re going to get it. Meditation is the path to clarity and therefore, the path to success.  

Here are some more great studies for you if you still need convincing!

          Harvard Study                       Another Study                     For the Skeptic           How to get clarity

Let me know if you try it this week and follow me on Twitter (@ashewoodz) or Facebook for my upcoming gratitude meditation.

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